5. Q&A: Self Management
Authority tends to make its possessor unjust and
arbitrary; it also makes those subject to it
acquiesce in wrong, subservient, and servile.
Authority corrupts its holder and debases its victim.
I cant see any reason why this would be so. First, no one has significantly greater resources than anyone else, so a free press in a parecon is not hobbled by being owned by and servicing a few. Second, a parecon values diversity. This has considerable bearing. It means that dissent is valued in its own right, even in lieu of evidence of its validity, for the proper reason that progress often depends on it. A society with a participatory economy would, therefore, I should think, set aside space and resources to actively support dissent.
Parecon does not work like this. The whole community doesnt pass judgment on each workplace in such a manner. Rather, a group of people can decide to create a workplace, like a magazine or whatever, and begin to operate within the economy. Your problem takes the form of whether the output of the effort has sufficient value to warrant inputs into it. But that isnt just a big vote by everyone...it depends on the folks who want the output. And to prevent undesirable outcomes, society could collectively decideI believe it would do so, in factthat minority and dissident viewpoints deserve greatly disproportionate support, beyond what economic accounting might spontaneously arrive at, on the off chance, for example, that they are valid, and will grow in relevance and impact.
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There is a sense of this, yes. Suppose a few folks decide to create a magazine in a parecon. And suppose very few folks want ittoo few, using the typical planning procedures to decide the issueto warrant the planning system providing us all the inputs we need. What is the option, then?
So while these are real problems in any society, it is hard for me to see how parecon isnt vastly superior on these axes than any other economic model we know about.
For the same reason we would opt against majority rule all the time, or against each person does whatever they will, anytimebecause consensus conveys a particular apportionment of influence that is consistent with the guiding norms in some cases, but not in others.
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But I should clarify something. When folks talk about consensus they often conflate two partsfirst, communicating clearly and fully, providing room for those affected to express themselves, etc. The process part. Second, each person having a veto over any proposed plan or decision. The decision input part.
The first aspect, the process part, is almost always appropriate and can be appended to any voting arrangement, though this is unlikely in an elitist context. The second aspect, the decision input rights, is the part that sometimes makes sense, but often not, and which a parecon would therefore employ sometimes, but not many other times.
No, there is no reason to think that humans, even in the best society we can imagine, will always see eye to eye about everything. Instead, we can predict with perfect confidence that there will be countless situations in which involved, affected parties have conflicting opinionsboth values and assessmentsthat lead them to favor different options. To have strong dissent is not a sign of failure, not at all, and is often essential to vitality and progress, in fact. Now one can ask, what do you do with on-going dissentand, for example, one very good thing to do, when possible, is to provide a means for its expression in on-going experimentation and exploration so that, among other things, if the winning approach proves undesirable, the dissenting one is still on the table for implementation. This is the logic of diversity applied to decisions.
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Anything goes isnt an option because it is internally inconsistent. If I do whatever I want it can restrict your being able to do whatever you want. So, for example, suppose I want to own you and dispose over your life. You then have no options though I enjoy anything goes. At a lesser level, suppose I want to employ you as a wage slaveyou now have limited options, while I enjoy anything goes. Both slave owners and capitalists appeal to the idea that they should be free to pursue their agendas, so that defending slavery and wage slavery as their right. The reason this isnt compelling, or shouldnt be, is because their agendas do not leave others with the same freedoms they claim for themselves. Now at a much lesser level, but still relevant, if I want a boom box and you want quiet, we cant both have our way in neighboring work place cubicles. So, there are limits. A good economy, or society, is not organized around the goal anything goes. Instead, it needs mechanisms by which people can freely choose in context of the free choices of others, and for the economy, that is what parecon provides.
You also ask, if one violates the limits a parecon imposes, what happens? Many possibilities. Folks who are upset may back off from confronting the violation because it just isnt worth their time to make a fuss. Or, if the violation is substantial, there may be interventionit could be local or it could involve people trained for the task. Having a good society doesnt mean not having disputes, not needing adjudication, not needing intervention to deal humanely but effectively with anti-social folks, much less with serial killers but these are matters for the polity, not the economy, save insofar as, if such roles exist in a good economy, remuneration will be for effort and sacrifice, job complexes will be balanced, decision inputs will be proportionate, etc.